Hello, Disciples of Uecker. Jack, er, Mr. Moore recently reached out to me about writing here. I demanded a huge salary. He said no. I acquiesced. Jack drives a hard bargain. Here I am.
In case you did not notice – which is completely understandable given how much you are caught up in Josh Wilson fever – my name is Toby Harrmann. I am an accountant by trade, a married father of two wonderful little children and a Wisconsinite by birth living in Minnesota. I am a lifelong Brewers fan. I have been writing on and off for Brewerfan.net for about 10 years now, most notably as the creator, curator and sometimes author of the Power 50. I have also been writing on and off for my blog You Know, And That for the better part of two days. Check either of those things out, follow me on Twitter if you dare, I am done talking about me.
You may be familiar with the Brewers’ shortstop situation. In November 2009, Doug Melvin and company shipped J.J. Hardy off to the Twins because they had phenom Alcides Escobar waiting in the wings and a strong passion for Carlos Gomez. Last December, they decided that giving up Escobar was worth it to get Zack Greinke. So in the span of a little over 13 months, Melvin went from fat in shortstops to Yuniesky Betancourt.
To make matters worse, this spring the Brewers decided to not keep the defensively competent Luis Cruz on the Major League roster. He subsequently bolted for Texas’ AAA club so he could toil in the minors behind Elvis Andrus. With the increasingly geriatric Craig Counsell the only other player in the system who could man shortstop at the big league level, the Brewers felt they needed to make a move. That move is Josh Wilson, claimed on waivers Wednesday from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Brewers are Wilson’s 10th MLB organization.
It is fairly easy to be concise about the good qualities the well-traveled Wilson brings to the Milwaukee Brewers’ table. He can play anywhere on the infield at a not terrible, replacement-ish level defensively. His throwing arm is not terrible. He has a scosche of power and unlike Counsell, he bats right-handed. Wilson was the Marlins’ 12th best prospect in 2005 according to Baseball America. (Their 11th best prospect that year was Josh Johnson – not bad company!) He comes from a baseball family. In fact, he sounds like he might have been a Beach Boy, or at least a lost baseball-playing Beach Boy brother/cousin. That’s a warm fuzzy.
What the 30-year-old Wilson does not do well is hit the baseball with the baseball bat. Whatever metric you want to use, not pretty. In his 930 big league plate appearances since 2005, Wilson has a 595 OPS with no platoon advantage. That’s good for a 63 OPS+ according to Baseball Reference, or an aggregate -41.2 RAR by FanGraphs’ measurement. He walks approximately once every 21.6 plate appearances, which is very poor for someone with a career .227 batting average. While most baseball players with that extended offensive drought would only stick around the big leagues with superb defensive play, Wilson does not fall into the “elite defender” category. Though he was named the best shortstop in the class AA Southern League in 2005, his skills have slipped to the point where he can play the infield positions adequately, but adequateness is his ceiling on the diamond. Wilson carries a negative career WAR by either Baseball Reference’s or FanGraph’s standards. One could argue that he is one of the few shortstops around on Major League 40-man rosters that would be a legitimate downgrade from Yuni Betancourt. I am pretty positive the Diamondbacks were shocked when they saw someone claim Wilson.
But despite his shortcomings, we will welcome Josh in to the Brewers’ family and hope he does well while he is here. The Brewers will have to clear a spot on the 25-man roster when Wilson arrives in town. Nyjer Morgan will also be activated on Friday. Brandon Boggs and the backup catchers should find their hiding places.
In a related transaction, the Brewers transferred Takashi Saito to the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster for Wilson. Saito’s 60 days are up in the first week of June, so the move is extremely unlikely to affect his return date to the club. The Brewers are hoping Saito returns by the end of June.
Thank you for reading my first post here and go Brewers!